Alex-Mirutziu-IDEA.jpg

Diana Marincu

THE RIGHT TO OPACITY

Alex Mirutziu, Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease

Sabot Gallery, Cluj, 15 November 2013 – 24 January 2014

 

IDEA art + society #44 2013

p. 75-79

One of the most widespread and circulated principles of the contemporary world, marked by the phenomenon of globalization and the overrating of a communication based on the diversity and plurality of perspectives, is transparence – the transparence of the relation - ships between people, the transparence of the flux of information, the transparence of the process of globalization, all of them under the sign of a terminology which is way too decrepit. Édouard Glissant, the well-known Caribbean writer and theoretician of post-colonial - ism, further complements the semantic field of the utopia of globalization with an opposite notion, which is essential for the ethics of human relationships: the right to opacity. This term is not synonymous with the right to being different, but signifies instead the limit up to which the Other can be known and his or her acceptance in spite of inaccessible, coded peculiarities.

Alex Mirutziu does not explain, does not represent and does not demonstrate through his works something that, as soon as it reaches the public, would “close“  itself within an interpretation. The question that the artist uses as a point of departure is “what happens when the objects, bodies and all things from our surroundings stay silent?“ Their language is untranslatable, their background empty and their field of reaction fragmented in a multitude of different temporalities, desynchronized.

By Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease, which is his second personal exhibition at Sabot Gallery in Cluj, Alex Mirutziu keeps on resisting to a visual regime based on transparency and certitudes about reality disguised in artworks. He claims the right of objects to withdraw from the invasive gaze of the visitors, in other words, their right to opacity. The concepts supporting this exhibition are “pending works“  and “bureaucratic objects“. The first has already been tested in quite a few formulae up to now, the most “extreme“ being PW#4, a work hidden by the artist in the Swiss Alps and for which he promised a reward of 10,000 euros if somebody finds it and brings it to the Barbara Seiler Gallery. Another “postponed“ work, Five Moments of Silence for Pending Work #7, from the exhibition What Is the Reality of Never? (IASPIS, 2012), has been a performance carried out by six people “conducted“ by the artist into a few moments of silence dedicated to this work, which has initially been formulated in the guise of a contract with Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery from Munich. The idea of works suspended in an indefinite time or never concretized is not new and marks undoubtedly the creation of all artists. But Mirutziu sees in this postponement of transposing the idea into an object a limit of human perception in covering the conceptual territory of the work and the duration of the process. A “pending“ work is always too big for the geographic space in which the artist is located and for the present moment. These “pending works“ test not only the perception of the public about an absent thing, but also the mode of functioning of the relationship between work and art market and between the artist and the gallery owner. The validation mechanism of an artwork goes through a short-circuit and is replaced with the complicity between public and artist in order to form a fissure in the very roots of art.  The concern for the aesthetic form is substituted with a network of ideas that do not exhaust reality, but accept its irreducible and often hazy core, according to the theories of object-centered philosophy, whose partisans (such as Bruno Latour or Graham Harman) are among the documentation sources of the artist.

The performance that took place at the end of the exhibition from Sabot, Scotopolitic Objects #2 [for one performer], triggered precisely the situation mentioned by Graham Harman in his writings, namely the one in which the object proves itself to be immune to the attempts at deciphering it. The scenario of the performance has been thought out in such a way as too cover both the empty space of the exhibition and every corporeal presence. The artist used five big ceramic pots placed one next to the other, in which he has placed five microphones in order to create an unpredictable sound platform that included all sounds from the space of the gallery and all movements of the visitors. These improvised sound tools reacted and changed their vibrations or the volume of the sound according to the gestures of the artist (each move of his palms have been captured by the microphone) or to the distance between the objects. The failure of the public in clarifying the sonic and visual situation placed the artist in the posture of continuing his action, improvising and reactivating the potential of objects otherwise “calcified“, as he calls them. 

Using all possible media, Alex Mirutziu outmaneuvers our perceptual habits and brings the exhibition in a new zone of tension between the sensorial qualities of the objects and their mental representation.  In 2009, Mirutziu has formed an artistic collective with one of his alter egos – the artist at the age of 29 – and all works made in this way are based on the body as a primary tool. Within the exhibition, The Artist as Himself at 29 is an example of a paradoxical object which migrates from medium to medium. After the process of fabricating the physical mask of the artist, this mask has become a drawing tool in a performance and, simultaneously, an extension of his own body, one of the conditions of making this drawing being the permanent contact between the mask, the hand and the paper. Finally, the mask-object has been exhibited together with a video that documented the performance and has been placed next to the final drawing as a radio - gram of the whole process. Following the same subtle link between sculpture and the ephemeral performative gestures among which the artist finds many affinities, even though they seem incompatible at first sight, two photos – Weight of Sleep as Temporary Sculpture Present in Flesh of Face – try to capture the moment of waking up in which the body is the raw material for an ephemeral sculpture.  The traces on the face of the artist keep the memory of abstract forms imprinted on it, their source being quite enigmatic precisely because everything has taken place during sleep. 

“The bureaucratic object“, another important concept for the exhibition, is a conglomerate of oppositions to which the artist leaves open a way to reciprocally reconcile or annihilate each other. The language of the bureaucratic object is political par excellence. Each word through which we explain reality bears within itself an intentionality and a power of manipulation highlighted by the poetry of post-language. One of the works in the exhibition is a “prepared“ poem that generates two extra works – a video and a series of sculpture-objects. The visual allure of a text is what pushes the artist to research and renegotiate the identity of each word. Starting from the poem Politics by Graham Foust, Mirutziu cuts out and inserts certain passages from Our Circumlocution of W. H. Auden, reflecting upon the time of pronouncing a text, the pauses between the verses and the spontaneous alliances between words. The tridimensional objects extracted from these imbrications, Architecture for Page Turn, coincide as form with the empty spaces between the lines that determine the entire architecture of a page of text. The utility of these small lead objects is to keep open the page of a book in different angles, covering more or less the words and contributing to a certain kind of reading. Each glance at a text, even when the latter is not complete, inevitably determines the spontaneous selection of a set of words with which our mind creates new semantic contexts.  Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease passes finely over the invisible membrane that coats the idea, the object and the artistic process in order to create a new conceptual relationship between human and non-human, solitude and togetherness, artist and viewers, marked by opacity and the lack of a common language.  The theories about postmodern networks of objects (called “plasma“ by Latour) always ignore the irreducible properties of individual elements, while privileging their relations. Instead, Alex Mirutziu interrupts the circuit and awaits to see what comes out from notions such as opacity, failure, impossibility, closing and postponement. 

“The rhetoric of silence“, the phrase by which in her “The Aesthetics of Silence“(1) Susan Sontag names the resistance strategy of art before the imposture or erroneous interpretation, can be viewed as a “zero degree“ at which the intentionality of the artist or the aesthetic frame disappear, leaving a void right in the middle of the stage and provoking the spectators to rethink their own position towards art; in this “aesthetics“ silence is nothing but an attempt at liberation from the spectator, client, evaluator or any other type of constraints, a decision that brings with itself also its other side – the dialectics of a symmetric exchange, in which one could answer to the void with the substance of ideas, to silence with the eloquence of the demonstration, etc. Sontag refers to André Breton’s concept of “pleine marge“ in order to explain the tendency of art to isolate itself in a (spatially and mentally) peripheric zone, the central void pushing to the margins the true, authentic experience. The result – new ways in listening, viewing and understanding art – is a conceptual and sensorial exercise of transgressing the eternal mediation task of art and of denouncing the “bureaucracy“ signaled by Alex Mirutziu. This is why dominant terms in the contemporary discourse about art, such as “to exhibit“, “to illustrate“, “to discover“ ,“to share“, “to translate“, “to demonstrate“(2) should be removed at least for a split second from the art vocabulary, just as in a workshop of “potential literature“ (starting from the OULIPO(3) experiments) in order to create new “constraints“ and “liberties“.

 Translated by Alexandru Polgár

 

DIANA MARINCU (b. 1986) is a Ph.D. candidate at the National University of Art in Bucharest, Art History and Theory Department, with a research focusing on the curatorial narratives/discourses built in relation with political and geographical criteria in the last twenty years of exhibition making. She writes art reviews in Arta, Observator cultural, Dilema veche, Poesis International, and other publications.

 

Notes

1. Susan Sontag, “The Aesthetics of Silence“, in Styles of Radical Will, Picador
US, 2002.
2. Observation borrowed from the essay “Opacity“ by Ulrich Loock, published
in Frieze Magazine, no. 7, winter 2012 and read at http://friezemagazin.de/archiv/features/opazitaet/
“Imagining the world in terms of opacity as a chaotically resonating whole appears as an unparalleled challenge to current notions of the global. In this light, it was striking to see the terms used in the exhibition
catalogue for The Global Contemporary (2011) at the ZKM in Karlsruhe to describe the artistic aims of individual works in the show: examine, uncover, unmask, expose, reveal, reflect, illustrate, comment
– a language of transparency that translated the works themselves, whichever part of the world they came from, into a dominant aesthetic of allegory.“
3. Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, a group for experimental literary creation formed in the 1960s by writer Raymond Queneau and mathematician François Le Lionnais, which considers voluntary formal constraints
to be effective in the stimulation of creativity and imagination. This group functions today as well and, periodically, they propose new “constraints“ for an “anti-hazard“ practice.

 

Romanian version

Diana Marincu

DREPTUL LA OPACITATE

Alex Mirutziu, Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease

Galeria Sabot, Cluj, 15 noiembrie 2013 – 24 ianuarie 2014

 

IDEA arta + societate #44 2013

p. 75-79

Unul dintre cele mai raspîndite si mai vehiculate principii ale lumii contemporane, marcate de fenomenul globalizarii si de supralicitarea comunicarii bazate pe diversitatea si pluralitatea perspectivelor, este transparenfla – aceea a relafliilor dintre oameni, transparenta fluxului de informaflie, transparenfla procesului mondializarii, toate aflate sub semnul unei terminologii deja mult prea uzate. Édouard Glissant, cunoscutul scriitor de origine caraibiana si teoretician al postcolonialismului, completeaza acest cîmp semantic al utopiei globalizarii cu o notiune opusa, esentiala pentru etica relatiilor dintre oameni: dreptul la opacitate. Acesta nu este sinonim cu dreptul de a fi diferit, ci înseamna mai degraba limita pîna la care Celalalt poate fi cunoscut si acceptarea lui în pofida unor particularitati codificate, inaccesibile.

Alex Mirutziu nu explica, nu reprezinta si nu demonstreaza prin lucrarile lui ceva ce odata pus la dispozitia publicului s-ar „închide“ într-o interpretare oarecare. Întrebarea de la care pleaca artistul întotdeauna este „ce se întîmpla atunci cînd obiectele, corpurile, toate lucrurile din jurul nostru tac?“ Limbajul lor este intraductibil, fundalul vid si cîmpul de reactie fragmentat într-o multitudine de temporalitati diferite, decalate. Alex Mirutziu continua, prin expozitia Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease, a doua expozitie personala de la Galeria Sabot din Cluj, sa se opuna unui regim vizual bazat pe transparenta si unor certitudini despre realitate deghizate în opere de arta. El revendica dreptul obiectelor de a se sustrage privirii invazive a vizitatorilor, cu alte cuvinte, dreptul lor la opacitate. Conceptele pe care se sprijina expozitia aceasta sunt „pending works“ [lucrari în asteptare] si „bureaucratic objects“ [obiecte birocratice]. Primul a fost deja testat în mai multe formule pîna acum, cea mai „extrema“ forma pe care a luat-o fiind lucrarea PW#4, pe care artistul a ascuns-o în Alpii elvetieni, oferind, printr-un contract cu Galeria Barbara Seiler, o recompensa de 10.000 EUR celui care o gaseste si o aduce la galerie. O alta lucrare „amînata“, Five Moments of Silence for Pending Work #7, din expozitia

What Is the Reality of Never? (2012, la IASPIS), a fost un performance realizat de sase persoane „dirijate“ de artist sa pastreze cîteva momente de tacere dedicate acestei lucrari initial formulate sub forma unui contract cu Galeria Rüdiger Schöttle din München. Ideea lucrarilor suspendate într-un timp nedefinit sau niciodata concretizate nu este noua si marcheaza, fara îndoiala, creatia oricarui artist. Dar Mirutziu vede în aceasta amînare a transpunerii ideii în obiect o limita a perceptiei umane de a cuprinde teritoriul conceptual al lucrarii si durata procesului. Întotdeauna o lucrare „în asteptare“ e prea mare pentru spatiul geografic în care se afla artistul si pentru momentul prezent. Aceste „lucrari în asteptare“ nu pun la încercare doar percepflia publicului asupra unui lucru absent, ci si modul de functionare a relatiei lucrare-piata de arta si artist-galerist. Mecanismul de validare a unei opere de arta este scurtcircuitat aici si înlocuit de complicitatea dintre public si artist pentru formarea unei fisuri pe radacina însasi a artei. Preocuparea pentru realizarea estetica este substituita de o retea de idei care nu epuizeaza realitatea, ci îi accepta miezul ireductibil si adesea confuz, conform teoriilor filosofiei centrate pe obiect, ai carei reprezentanti (cum ar fi Bruno Latour sau Graham Harman) constituie una dintre sursele de documentare ale artistului.

Performance-ul desfasurat la finalul expozitiei de la Sabot, Scotopolitic Objects #2 [for one performer], a declansat exact situatia amintita de Graham Harman în scrierile lui, cea în care obiectul se dovedeste imun la încercarile de a-l decodifica. Scenariul performance-ului a fost gîndit astfel încît ss cuprinda atît spatiul vid din expozitie, cît si fiecare prezenta corporala. Artistul s-a folosit de cinci vase mari de ceramica asezate unul lînga altul, cu cîte un microfon agatat înauntru, pentru a crea o platforma sonora imprevizibila, incluzînd toate sunetele din spatiul galeriei si toate miscarile corpurilor vizitatorilor. Aceste instrumente sonore improvizate reactionau si îsi schimbau vibratiile sau volumul sunetului în functie de gesturile artistului (miscarile palmelor deasupra vaselor sau chiar mutarea microfoanelor dintr-un vas în altul), pasii vizitatorilor (fiecare miscare din galerie era captata de microfon) sau distanta dintre obiecte. Esecul publicului de a clarifica situaflia sonora si vizuala îl punea pe artist în ipostaza de a-si continua actiunea, improvizînd si reactivînd potentialul unor obiecte altfel „calcifiate“, asa cum le numeste chiar el. Folosind toate mediile de exprimare artistica posibile, Alex Mirutziu dejoaca obisnuintele noastre perceptive si aduce expozitia Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease într-o zona a tensiunii dintre calitatile senzoriale ale obiectelor si reprezentarea mentala a lor.

În 2009, Mirutziu a format un colectiv artistic cu un alter ego al sau – artistul la vîrsta de 29 de ani – si toate lucrarile realizate astfel se axeaza pe corp ca instrument primordial. The Artist as Himself at 29 este un exemplu de obiect paradoxal prezent în expozitie care migreaza dintr-un mediu în altul. Dupa procesul de realizare fizica a mastii artistului, ea a devenit instrument de desen într-un performance si, în acelasi timp, o extensie a propriului corp, una dintre conditiile realizarii desenului fiind pastrarea mastii în permanent contact cu mîna si cu hîrtia. În final, masca obiect a fost expusa împreuna cu un video de documentare a performance-ului si alaturata desenului final ca radiografie a întregului proces. Urmarind aceeasi legatura subtila între sculptura si gestul performativ efemer, carora artistul le gaseste multiple afinitati, chiar daca par incompatibile la prima vedere, doua fotografii – Weight of Sleep as Temporary Sculpture Present in Flesh of Face – încearca sa surprinda momentul trezirii, în care corpul este materia prima pentru o sculptura efemera. Urmele de pe fata artistului pastreaza memoria formelor abstracte care s-au imprimat pe ea, sursa acestora fiind enigmatica tocmai pentru ca totul s-a întîmplat în timpul somnului.

„Obiectul birocratic“, un alt concept important pentru expozitie, este un conglomerat de opozitii carora artistul le lasa deschisa calea de a se reconcilia sau anihila reciproc. Limbajul obiectului birocratic este unul eminamente politic. Fiecare cuvînt cu ajutorul caruia ne explicam realitatea poarta cu sine o intentionalitate si o putere de manipulare pe care poezia postlimbajului a reusit sa o puna în evidenta. Una dintre lucrarile din expoziflie este un poem „preparat“ care genereaza alte doua lucræri – un video si o serie de obiecte-sculpturi. Alura vizuala a unui text este ceea ce îl determina pe artist sa cerceteze si sa renegocieze identitatea fiecarui cuvînt. Pornind de la poemul Politics al lui Graham Foust, Mirutziu decupeaza si insereaza anumite pasaje din Our Circumlocution al lui W. H. Auden, reflectînd asupra timpului rostirii unui text, asupra pauzelor dintre versuri si a aliantelor spontane între cuvinte. Obiectele tridimensionale extrase din aceste suprapuneri, Architecture for Page Turn, coincid ca forma cu spatiile goale dintre rînduri, care determina întreaga arhitectura a unei pagini de text. Utilitatea acestor obiecte mici din plumb este de a tine pagina cartii deschisa în diferite variante, acoperind mai mult sau mai puflin cuvintele si contribuind la un anumit tip de lectura. Fiecare privire aruncata asupra unui text, chiar si incomplet, determina inevitabil selectia spontana a unui set de cuvinte, cu care dupa aceea mintea noastra creeaza noi si noi contexte semantice.

Each Thought’s an Instant Ruin with a New Disease trece cu finete deasupra membranei vizibile care îmbraca ideea, obiectul si procesul artistic, pentru a crea o noua relatie conceptuala a perechii uman/nonuman, precum si a tandemului solitudine si relatie sau artist si spectatori, marcate de opacitate si de lipsa unui limbaj comun. Teoriile despre retelele de obiecte de tip postmodern (pe care Latour le numeste „plasma“) ignora întotdeauna proprietaflile ireductibile ale fiecarui element, privilegiind relatia dintre ele. Alex Mirutziu, în schimb, întrerupe circuitul si asteapta sa vada ce se naste de aici încolo din notiuni ca opacitate, esec, imposibilitate, închidere si amînare. „Retorica tacerii“, asa cum numeste Susan Sontag, în eseul „The Aesthetics of Silence“1, strategia de rezistenta a artei în fata imposturii sau a interpretarii eronate, poate fi privita ca un „grad zero“ la care intentionalitatea artistului si carcasa estetica dispar, lasînd un gol exact în mijlocul scenei si provocînd spectatorii sa-si re-gîndeasca propria pozitie în raport cu arta; tacerea nu e altceva în aceasta „estetica“ decît o încercare de eliberare fata de spectator, client, arbitru sau orice alt tip de constrîngeri, o decizie care aduce cu sine si reversul – dialectica unui schimb simetric, în care vidului i se raspunde cu substanta ideilor, tacerii cu elocventa demonstratiei etc. Sontag apeleaza la notiunea lui André Breton de „pleine marge“ pentru a explica tendinta artei de a se izola într-o zona periferica (spatiala sau mentala), vidul central împingînd spre margine experienta adevarata, autentica. Iar rezultatul, noi variante de a asculta, privi si întelege arta, este un exercitiu conceptual si senzorial de transgresare a eternei sarcini de mediere a artei si de denuntare a „birocratiei“ semnalate de Alex Mirutziu. De aceea, termeni dominanti în discursul despre arta, precum „a expune“, „a ilustra“, „a descoperi“, „a împartasi“, „a traduce“, „a demonstra“2, ar trebui macar pentru o clipa îndepartati din vocabularul artistic, precum într-un atelier de „literatura potentiala“ (pornind de la experimentele OULIPO3), pentru a crea noi „constrîngeri“ si „libertati“.

 

Note:

1. Susan Sontag, „The Aesthetics of Silence“, in Styles of Radical Will, Picador, 2002.

2. Observaflie preluatæ din eseul „Opacity“, de Ulrich Loock, publicat în revista Frieze d/e, nr. 7, iarna 2012, Berlin si consultat la http://friezemagazin.de/archiv/features/opazitaet/

„Imagining the world in terms of opacity as a chaotically resonating whole appears as an unparalleled challenge to current notions of the global. In this light, it was striking to see the terms used in the exhibition catalogue for The Global Contemporary (2011) at the ZKM in Karlsruhe to describe the artistic aims of individual works in the show: examine, uncover, unmask, expose, reveal, reflect, illustrate, comment – a language of transparency that translated the works themselves, whichever part of the world they came from, into a dominant aesthetic of allegory.“

3. Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, un grup de creatie literara experimentala format în anii 1960 de scriitorul

Raymond Queneau øi de matematicianul François Le Lionnais, care consideræ constrîngerile formale voluntare ca fiind eficace în stimularea creativitatii si a imaginatiei. Acest grup functioneaza si astazi si periodic sînt propuse noi „constrîngeri“ pentru o practica „antihazard“.

 

DIANA MARINCU (n. 1986) este doctoranda la Universitatea Nationala de Arte din Bucuresti, Departamentul de Istoria si Teoria Artei, cu o cercetare despre discursurile curatoriale construite în jurul unor criterii politico-geografice în ultimii douazeci de ani. Semneaza cronici de arta în revistele Arta, Observator cultural, Dilema veche, Poesis International si în alte publicatii.